The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA or simply the Y) in Australia is adapting for a new era and has collaborated with Boy George in a new “#whynot?” campaign. There are many issues affecting young people in Australia and the organization is asking the all-important question, “Why not?” with a new crusade. The movement seeks to provide a platform in efforts to amplify the voices of young people and those who desire to speak up for them.
Some Australians cannot marry the person they love, find jobs in their career fields after years of schooling, or have a mental health condition that no one is addressing. The Why Not? Campaign is part of the national conversation between young people and those able to make change for Australian youth. The new crusade aims to shine a light on these issues and bring change.
As the nation’s leading nonprofit committed to helping people and communities learn, grow and thrive, the organization is aiming to empower this generation on another level. The YMCA’s contributions are both far-reaching and intimate—from influencing culture during times of profound social change to the individual support provided for adults learning to read.
The YMCA has established www.whynot.org.au as a platform for young people and their concerns. At the onset, the site will enable and encourage those interested in contacting those in power about the issue(s) they would like addressed. From here, the Y hopes to evolve the site to become a beacon for young people wanting to be heard by society for resources, opportunities to identify issues and work towards solutions. For this massive feat, Boy George joined forces to cover a fresh version of the 70s song “YMCA.”
The organization was not a fan of the original version by The Village People. According to a member of the group, Felipe Rose, “the YMCA wanted to sue the group until they learned they did not own the four letters comprising the Y.M.C.A.” The original song’s gay undertones were mostly missed by the straight community who was too busy dancing and doing the hand gestures to really hear the lyrics. However, this new version, released by Boy George, shares a clear message and for many, will be as if the song is being heard for the very first time.
YMCA Australia took the leap to partner with the well-known musician to re-record the song in support of the Why Not? Campaign. Boy George, born George Alan O’Dowd, is an English singer, songwriter, and fashion designer. He is the lead singer of the Grammy and Brit Award-winning pop band Culture Club. With his creative style of dressing and questions relating to his sexuality, Boy George is no stranger to prejudices and misunderstandings. Known for the international hit song, “Karma Chameleon” the singer has managed to remain true to himself throughout his career.
The Australia YMCAs work together from a base of Christian values to provide opportunities for all people to grow in body, mind, and spirit. Although faith-based, it is not associated with any one church group. The organization did not consult with Christian organizations who oppose marriage equality prior to launching the #whynot? campaign. The CEO of the YMCA in Australia, Melinda Crole, said:
We had a big conversation about how we can be a social movement for young people. One of the assets we had was the recognizable YMCA song. The decision to embrace the song – along with queerness and marriage equality – came from speaking to young people. It was a challenging conversation for us as leaders – the baby boomers and Gen X. We have to let go – it wasn’t about what we thought. It was about the young people. Research shows an overwhelming link between marriage equality and mental health – we are prepared to stand up for that.
Australian young people cannot understand why in 2017 equal rights for all people is still an issue. The YMCA does not view marriage equality as a homosexual issue; instead, it is a matter of equal rights. The Y has always been a champion of equality, diversity, and inclusion, welcoming all people into its diverse range of programs and services across Australia.
The campaign seeks to bridge the ever-growing gap and bring about change. For the new initiative, Boy George covers a fresh and empowering version of “YMCA” for a new generation. Around the globe, the YMCA works to bring social justice and peace to young people and their communities, regardless of religion, race, gender, or culture. Take a listen to Boy George’s remix of the song and contact YMCA Australia for more information on the Why Not? Campaign.
By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
YMCA AU: Why Not? Campaign
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